Good luck with that: Angels 'working hard' to deal Gary Matthews Jr.

Leave a comment’s Ken Rosenthal reports that “the Angels are working hard to trade Gary Matthews Jr.” Of course, if the Angels could have traded Matthews without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract they would have done so long ago.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports recently ranked Matthews’ five-year, $50 million deal as the eighth-worst contract handed out this decade, and the Angels still owe him $23 million over the next two seasons. How much of that money would they have to eat in order to find a taker for the 35-year-old Matthews?
In an effort to answer that question Sam Miller of the Orange County Register wondered what type of contract Matthews would get on the open market right now, because if you subtract that hypothetical amount from $23 million that’s basically how much the Angels would need to chalk up as a sunk cost.
Naturally, agent Scott Leventhal is in full-on spin mode when it comes to Matthews’ current value:

Gary wants to play every day, and he wants to play center field. He’s still got an amazing amount of talent. The Angels have been notified [of Matthews’ desire for a trade] on a number of occasions. It’s just a matter of whether something can be done.

When agents say things like that, do they realize how ridiculous they sound and how much credibility they lose? Matthews is 35 years old and has gone from overrated to just plain bad defensively while hitting .248/.325/.383 in three seasons with the Angels, including .250/.336/.361 this year. Yet according to Leventhal “he’s still got an amazing amount of talent” and wants to be an everyday center fielder. In related news, my mom thinks I’m still the handsomest boy in the neighborhood and I want to marry Mila Kunis.
Step away from those equally implausible fantasy worlds and Matthews is basically a run-of-the-mill backup outfielder at this point, which would maybe get him a one-year deal for something like $2 million on the open market. If he’s lucky. In other words, for the Angels to find a taker for him they’d likely have to eat upwards of $20 million, which definitely qualifies as “working hard.”

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.